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Player Review 2014: Ian Mahinmi

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

Age: 27
Years Pro: 6
Status: Has two more years on his contract.
Key Stats: Averaged 3.5 points and 3.3 rebounds while playing 16.2 minutes per game.  

Ian Mahinmi's scoring production dropped from the previous season, but what else is new? Roy Hibbert knows exactly how he feels.

The continued emergence of Paul George and Lance Stephenson drained shots from the center position, and Mahinmi was scorched by the drought as was Hibbert. While Hibbert was taking 105 fewer shots than the previous season as the starting center, Mahinmi was getting 140 fewer attempts as a backup, despite playing nearly as many minutes as in 2012-13. So, the fact his scoring average dropped from 5 points to 3.5 doesn't reflect anything more than an altered role. 

Fact is, Mahinmi played as well as he had the previous season, although in a different sequence, and was better in the playoffs. His postseason scoring average increased from 1.6 to 1.9, because he got to play more often, and his shooting percentages were up, too.

Photo Gallery: Ian Mahinmi's 2013-14 Season-in-Review

With all the chatter about the impact of Andrew Bynum's presence on Hibbert, the conversation should have been directed more toward Mahinmi. He was the one threatened by Bynum's addition to the roster. Hibbert was going to start regardless, but Mahinmi was going to be heading toward the far end of the bench, if not the inactive list, if Bynum's knees were going to cooperate.

While Hibbert's pre- and post-Bynum stats don't support the argument that he was negatively affected by the roster move, Mahinmi's do support the argument that he wasn't bothered. Mahinmi averaged 3 points on 42 percent shooting from the start of the season until Feb. 1, when Bynum was signed. He averaged 4.3 points on 54 percent shooting from that point until the end of the season. Breaking it down further, he averaged 4.8 points on 69 percent shooting from the day Bynum first played against Boston on March 11 – a game for which Mahinmi was inactive – until the end of the season. 

There you have it, conspiracy theorists. Bynum's presence didn't cause Hibbert's struggles, and if anything it helped Mahinmi play better, although he continually denied drawing inspiration from it. 

For whatever reason, Mahinmi's second half of the season was better than his first. Which was the opposite of the previous season, when he played as well or better than Hibbert in the pre-season and early season, but dropped off after the All-Star break. Until then, Mahinmi had hit 48 percent of his field goal attempts, while Hibbert had hit 41 percent. Mahinmi had just one double-figure scoring game after the break, though and wasn't much of a factor in the playoffs. 

This past season, he had four double-figure outings in his final 14 regular season games, including an 11-point, five-rebound gem against Oklahoma City in the second-to-last game. He was less of a factor in the playoffs, failing to score more than six points. He did have notable contributions in a few games, such as six rebounds in the season-preserving Game 6 win at Atlanta and five points in the closeout game win at Washington.

At this stage of his career, Mahinmi is what he is, an athletic, 6-11 center with a good attitude who can rebound and block shots, but doesn't have the skill set to become a consistent scorer. Which is what teams expect from a backup center. 

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